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Bucks County authorities pushing to solve John Doe cold case

CBS3 Mysteries: Bucks County authorities pushing to solve John Doe cold case
CBS3 Mysteries: Bucks County authorities pushing to solve John Doe cold case 03:32

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (CBS) -- In Thursday night's CBS3 Mysteries – the push to solve a cold case of a victim simply known as John Doe.

For many years, authorities in Bucks County have been trying to identify a man whose remains were discovered near the Delaware River.

For almost two decades, the name of the man buried in a plot at Doylestown Cemetery has been a mystery.

Who is John Doe? Where is he from? What happened?

"John Doe's remains washed up on the banks of the Delaware River in Bensalem Township, and to date, he is still unidentified," Retired Detective Chris McMullin said. 

Joe Holden: "It came over the radio as what?"

Bensalem Township Police Detective John Monaghan: "A body found on the banks of the Delaware River."

Monaghan remembers that call.

"I was actually working the day that it happned," Monaghan said. 

JH: "Do you remember that day?"

Monaghan: "I didn't go down to the scene itself but I do remember everybody working on the case when I got back at headquarters."

Monaghan, McMullin and retired State Police Commander Tom McAndrew continue to shed light on this cold case.

"The gravestone marker, it just says, 'John Doe.' He had a name, he deserves his name back," McMullin said. 

McMullin and McAndrew are behind a nonprofit effort to breathe new life into long-dormant investigations - mysteries.

"We do have a responsibility for these people laying in graves often," McAndrew said. "This case is actually unique in the point that it has a grave marker that at least that says John Doe. You know the Potters Field down in Philadelphia does not - they're all unmarked graves."

"We started a nonprofit organization called, 'Cold Case Initiative' and our mission for that is to raise money to provide forensic testing to police departments in law enforcement agencies throughout the country that have cases like this but it's not in their budget to get it done," McMullin said. 

On this sunny, crisp late autumn day in a Bucks County cemetery — the man in this grave is not forgotten.

Police say he was White, in his 30s with dark hair and a taller build.

"He was friends with somebody, everybody's got a friend somewhere along the line in their life," Monaghan said. "Even if they're a shut-in. Somewhere, someone comes to see them. We just want someone to say, 'Hey, that guy Bob lived down the street. Nobody saw him. He disappeared, and that description matches.'"

One of the big challenges for this case is that there isn't even a photo of John Doe. What they do have is a photo of clothing.


The body of John Doe was recovered wearing a 2X T-shirt – with a manufacturer's label with the name "George."

Investigators are confident this case can be solved, that John Doe can be given his name again. Genealogy will tie it together, investigators say.

"We just need to get John Doe's DNA uploaded into one of the public databases like Gen match and let our genealogist go to work and I'm quite confident will get an identification on them,"  McMullin said. 

"Nobody, no matter what the story is deserves to go away, just drift into nothingness, into a cemetery with a bland marker," Monaghan said.  

JH: "A John Doe?"

Monaghan: "Exactly."

"Some of the most insignificant details turn out to be the most important details," Monaghan added.

Who is John Doe?

If you have information, call Bensalem Township Detective John Monaghan at 215-633-3668.

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